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A Tumultuous Year 

A Letter from Tyler Holm, serving in Malawi

March 2020

Write to Tyler Holm

Individuals: Give to E200532 for Tyler Holm’s sending and support

Congregations: Give to D507572 for Tyler Holm’s sending and support

Faculty of Theology: Give to E052124 to support the University of Livingstonia Faculty of Theology

Churches are asked to send donations through your congregation’s normal receiving site (this is usually your presbytery).

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As we think back on this last year and begin 2020, we realize that it has been a year of many trials as well as joys. It has been a year that reminds us of the importance and the reality of how we are in mission and life together. We are especially thankful for the community of support through prayer, finances, and guidance.

One of the most significant events, of course, was in November. I (Tyler) fell off my bicycle not far from Mphatso’s school here in Mzuzu. I broke four ribs and suffered a pneumothorax. Thankfully the local Mzuzu doctor recognized the limitations of healthcare available in Malawi and recommended going abroad. I received excellent care in South Africa, and we returned home to Malawi in December. Medically, I am as healthy as I was before the accident. In January, I resumed light duties at the University of Livingstonia. In early February, the residential full-time students returned for the second semester, so I began teaching classes.

The experience has reminded Rochelle and me of so many theological truths. While I was lying in the hospital bed, the interconnectedness of the amazing bodies God has given us was evident. Muscles that wrap around our back connect to our legs. A medication that relaxes back muscles also relaxes the muscles of the eye, changing how we focus to see.

These bodies are amazing creations of interdependence. Our own lives and communities are no less interconnected. Immediately after the accident, our community sprang into action. Colleagues at the University of Livingstonia put aside their own extensive responsibilities to visit us and make sure my classes were covered. Students responded with grace to unmarked papers. Presbyterian World Mission colleagues quickly stepped in to help, arranging insurance and all the logistics in Malawi and South Africa. Rochelle coordinated with all these groups and more. Hundreds, then thousands, of emails and messages started coming in to give us support and encouragement. We are very grateful for all these individuals, the excellent health care that PC(USA) provides, our local partners, and all of you.

While my accident was an unexpected reminder of interconnectedness, the ways in which we need to be interconnected was already on my mind. Another important event in 2019 was my participation in a meeting with other theological schools through the Network for African Congregational Theology (NETACT). NETACT seeks to foster collaboration among schools in sub-Saharan Africa. While North American colleges and universities often collaborate for staff development and accreditation, this is not the case in Malawi. In Malawi and elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, accreditation is often nonexistent or considered a governmental function. Academic conferences are few, and expenses keep most university instructors from participating. Staff development suffers from this lack of networking. I was very glad to have been able to participate in the NETACT meeting, and to be reminded of how theological schools also benefit from connecting with one another.

This interconnectedness was also on display in 2019 by all of you who helped meet the financial needs of my position.  Thank you so much for your generosity, and please continue to support the PC(USA)’s partnering with the Church of Central Africa Presbyterian (CCAP) in 2020. You can support my position with the University of Livingstonia through E200532 (Congregations D507572) and the growing programs of the Faculty of Theology through E052124.

In gratitude, Tyler and Rochelle

Creative_Commons-BYNCNDYou may freely reuse and distribute this article in its entirety for non-commercial purposes in any medium. Please include author attribution, photography credits, and a link to the original article. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDeratives 4.0 International License.

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